SaMo convicts first-ever illegal Airbnb host

Officials prosecuted Scott Shatford, CEO of an Airbnb analysis website AirDNA

Jul.July 14, 2016 10:30 AM

Santa Monica has convicted its first illegal Airbnb host, a year after the city passed a crackdown on short-term rental platforms, prosecutors announced Monday.

Landlord Scott Shatford, the CEO of an Airbnb analysis website, was charged with eight misdemeanor counts of operating his five property rentals without licenses and failing to comply with citations, Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen told the Los Angeles Times.

Shatford has been renting properties for four years. When strict regulations were enacted last year, he had vocally cast doubt on the city’s ability to enforce the new law.

In addition to his website, which aims to helps hosts to “Airbnb like a pro,” Shatford has written a book on home-sharing.

“It’s pretty silly,” he told the Times. “The city came after me, to make me their little poster child and be able to promote me as their first victory.”

He pleaded no contest in a plea deal with the city last week by agreeing to pay $3,500 in fines — what he makes with one property in a month, he said — and ceasing his rental operations within the city. He is also on two years probation.

City officials were able to incriminate him after booking one of his properties near the 3rd Street Promenade for four nights. It cost the city $1,200.

“They’ve lost money on the whole situation,” Shatford said. The SaMo resident of 14 years said he will be moving to Denver this week.

Under current Santa Monica law, renting out an entire home for under 30 days is prohibited. Home-sharing, or renting out a couch or a spare bedroom, is still allowed. At the time it passed, about 1,360 short-term rentals were made illegal.

The city has now created the Vacation Rental Enforcement Task Force to help prosecute criminal hosts, Shen said.

Los Angeles City Council will soon discuss its own draft of the rules, which the Planning Commission approved last month. Under the proposed regulations, hosts would be able to rent out entire homes for up to 180 days a year if the property is a primary residence and only if they register with the city. Failure to comply with the rules would result in steep fines. Airbnb would also be fined if it refuses to cooperate with the city in turning over the addresses of illegal units. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen

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